Thursday, February 20, 2014

Small Business Insurance: What Agents Want You to Know

Every business should be insured, but as a first-time business owner, you may find it hard to navigate through the maze of plans and providers. Speaking with fellow entrepreneurs is a good start, but commercial insurance agents are familiar with a wide range of business needs, and can provide insight into what's best for your company. Here are four tips from insurance agents for small business owners:
Start with a business owner's policy
For affordable, broad-spectrum coverage for your new business, it's best to start with a business owner's policy (BOP), said Judy Coblentz, chief underwriting officer at Travelers Insurance. This type of policy combines both property and general liability insurance, and typically covers events that cause suspended operations, property damage or lawsuits. Depending on the type of business you own and the number of employees you have, you may need additional specific types of insurance, but a BOP will at least provide basic protection from common business losses.
"It's important that small business owners have a conversation with an insurance agent about what a BOP policy does and does not cover, and determine whether the business's needs call for additional coverage [types]," Coblentz told Business News Daily. [5 Websites for Comparing Small Business Insurance Quotes]
Cheaper isn't always better
When you're trying to get a business off the ground, keeping a low budget is often a top priority. For certain expenses, it's smart to go with the least-expensive option. In the case of business insurance, cost shouldn't be the only consideration. Shop around for a provider that's in your price range but that also offers comprehensive coverage and business support services.
"Select the best carrier for your business needs," said Hale Johnston, senior vice president of small business insurance carrier Employers. "There may be more than one. Look beyond [the price], and make sure an agency is providing a good quote proposal and experience in your state and industry."
"You should choose your insurance adviser as you would any other professional," added Michael Zeldes, senior vice president of insurance brokerage HUB International Northeast. "Make sure [the agency] has buying power, negotiating strength and expertise in your industry, and provides services such as a risk-management department that can help avoid potential claims."
Be prepared for an audit during your first policy period
In general, the cost of an insurance policy is based on a business's annual gross sales. As a startup with no sales history, your policy premium will be based on your estimated annual sales for the first year.
"You will either be audited during the course of the policy or at the end of the policy period, and your premium may be adjusted based on your true sales," said Ken Gaylord, commercial insurance specialist at Montgomery and Associates Insurance Agency. "Always be as accurate as possible [in your sales records] to avoid any hidden surprises."
Consider all possibilities for your business's future
Although an accident, disability or illness that could threaten the viability of your business may seem unlikely, it's important to consider what it would mean for your company if these situations were to occur.
"Small business owners should consider the ramifications of the loss of revenue and the succession of the business they've work so hard to achieve," said Mitchell Smith, managing partner of Universal Insurance Services.
Smith recommended looking into disability, long-term care and life-insurance policies to ensure the continuity of your company in the event something were to happen to you or a key player in your business.
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Monday, February 10, 2014

Purchasing Insurance For Your Business

As a business owner it is your responsibility so make sure that you have business insurance to protect you, your business and your employees. Insurance for your business exists to protect the time, money and effort that you have invested in creating a successful company. General liability insurance exists to protect your venture. As a business owner it is up to you to ask the right questions come time to find an insurance provider and insurance policy. 

It is important to first know about the product you are purchasing to protect your business. A general business liability insurance plan is in place to cover business owners from any the risk of loss due to unforeseen events such as weather, theft or lawsuits. When you open a business you put yourself at risk therefore purchasing the correct business insurance is a necessity. There are a few basics that you will want to cover with the insurance agents you interview when addressing your needs for business insurance. 

First things first you will want to find out about the companies experience in selling liability insurance to companies with similar products or services to what you will be offering. Your personal insurance agent is not necessarily the best option when seeking out insurance for your business. You will want an experienced agent in commercial insurance. Personal insurance agents often don't have the knowledge or background to successfully navigate your business insurance needs. The last thing you want after purchasing business insurance is to still be exposed to risk. Find a company that offers a background and experience with a variety of insurance liability needs for business owners.

You will want to look into a comprehensive insurance package that fits your wants and needs when it comes to insurance coverage. There is not a one size fits all policy when it comes to covering your business. When searching for insurance you will need to find a company that is willing to focus on insurance specifically for the products and services you offer. They should also be familiar with the community in which your business will be open as well as the ability to point out risks that are unforeseen to you. A qualified insurance agent will guide you in a direction that encompasses all areas of your business including those you have not previously considered. 

Another thing to consider is an agent that is in this relationship with you for the long haul. It is important to work with someone that knows as your business expands your needs will change as well. Find a company that is reputable and known for their longevity, providing coverage for businesses that have seen progress and growth and have ensured their policies have grown with them. Referrals and references are something that should never be taken lightly when looking into companies offering business insurance. One place to start may be finding other locally owned businesses, similar in nature to yours and asking to talk to them about their insurance provider. This could lead you into a direction you may have not thought about when it comes to providers of insurance for your business. 

There are many providers that will provide your business insurance. The key element you are looking for is a provider that is providing the correct coverage to fir your needs today and tomorrow. A trust worthy efficient, knowledgeable agent is necessary in providing you coverage to effectively cover all of your business needs, seen and unforeseen.

Understanding Differences In Business Insurance Coverage

Deciding to start a business is the easiest step in being an entrepreneur.  The rest however is an upward battle.  Making a business successful and protecting it against any and all unforeseen possibilities is the real challenges in owning your own business.  With everything in business that could go right there is something equal that could go wrong.  Sort of like Newton’s third law for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  The goal is to prevent and protect yourself and your budding business from an array of unknown, unforeseen disasters.  You can do this with by purchasing adequate business insurance.  

With so many different insurance agents offering such a wide variety of business insurance plans how is any one supposed to know what to purchase.  It can be an overwhelming process but one that is indeed important to the success of your business.  The first step is to locate a local insurance agent specializing in business insurance.  You should also have a clear understanding of the different types of business insurance you will be shopping for.

One type of insurance is property insurance.  This is a policy that is purchased to cover a business similar to the way homeowners insurance covers your homes interest.  Property insurance will cover any loss or damage to the business property or lost assets.  This is a must have for all business owners even if the dwelling that your business is located is being rented.  This type of insurance covers the machines and tools necessary to run your business.

Casualty insurance provides coverage for the company against lawsuits and legal liability should injury be sustained on your companies property.  This also includes coverage to property not owned by the business.

When you purchase general liability insurance for your company provides coverage for any damage your business is responsible for in regards to health, property and reputation.  This insurance is a policy intended to cover everything from legal issues to accidents from negligence.  This is the most important coverage you can purchase for your business and for yourself to protect business assets as well as personal assets in some cases. 

Business interruption coverage is used to cover and make up for deficits in unforeseen situations such as natural disasters and catastrophic events. Business interruption coverage is there to bridge the gap in lost sales, rent, payroll and more until the business is back up and running following a major disaster.

Umbrella insurance for businesses is necessary coverage to have in case you have reached the limit of what other insurance policies will cover.  This insurance covers and costs above and beyond the original insurance policy coverage.  Basically you can consider umbrella insurance coverage for your business insurance policies. 

When it comes to choosing the right coverage for your business it is important to start with an agent that is familiar with businesses similar to yours and their coverage needs.  The agent should be able to help find pitfalls in your business and offer coverage to protect you from them.  Local insurance companies are often the best as they are familiar with the community and location in which you will be doing business and can provide coverage specific to your needs.